A crowd of protesters have rallied in Sydney against two bills introduced by One Nation’s Mark Latham, including one that would put transgender students “in harm’s way”.
The NSW One Nation leader has caused outrage with his proposed Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020.
Advocates warn Latham’s bill, if passed, would ban recognition of trans and gender diverse students at schools in the state.
On Saturday (June 5), the crowd of trans rights supporters gathered at the “Kill the Bills” protest rally at Sydney Town Hall before marching.
Teddy Cook, from ACON and peak trans health body AusPATH, addressed the rally. Cook, who is a trans man, blasted conservative rhetoric framing gender diversity as a new phenomenon.
“We’ve always existed. We see gender diversity in every First Nations culture on the planet,” he said.
“This includes here in Australia, within the longest continuing culture on the planet.
“I would say that the rigid gender norms and the binary are the thing that’s the new fad.”
Acknowledging Pride Month, Cook paid tribute to Australia’s long history of trans advocacy. But he said there was still much more work to be done.
“Trans communities are incredible. We are creative, smart, musical, hilarious, beautiful. We should be honoured,” he said.
“But peer-reviewed research tells us a very different story. The health of trans communities in Australia is in a crisis.
“We’re experiencing distress, suicidality, substance use, homelessness, disconnection from family, services culture and faith.
“We deal with fear and discrimination at work, in healthcare and in education.
“Many trans women also face significant violence, particularly trans women of colour.”
Mark Latham’s legislation puts trans youth ‘in harm’s way’
Teddy Cook said to deny the reality is “to say that the lives of trans people don’t matter.”
“The thing that keeps trans people safe and strong, it’s really simple,” he said.
“Access to affirmation, access to community, and living free and equal in society. That’s it.
“This education bill would seriously reduce access to these things that keep our trans kids protected and safe.
“This bill would erase and ban trans kids from educational settings and punish their teachers for providing support. All in the name of parental rights.”
“This bill oppresses and ostracises trans young people and their families.
“It puts our kids in harm’s way at a time when they need to be as protected and affirmed as possible.”
🏳️⚧️ Rallying today with Community Action for Rainbow Rights – because trans and gender diverse kids need us to step up to stop the bullying bigots and ‘phobes 🏳️⚧️ #TransRightsAreHumanRights #Sydney (Time to put One Nation Bills in the 🗑) pic.twitter.com/GMRP4mQ021
— Jenny Leong MP 梁珍妮 (@jennyleong) June 5, 2021
Protesters also fighting ‘religious freedom’ amendment bill
The Sydney rally was organised by Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR). The group are also opposing Mark Latham’s separate religious discrimination legislation.
Latham’s proposed amendment to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act would unfairly give religious bodies powers to discriminate against employees, customers, and those in their care, CARR say.
“These bills will empower a bigoted minority in Australia to discriminate against LGBTI people, women and other groups, just by saying it’s their religious belief,” CARR co-convener April Holcombe said.
“There’s no way we’re going to let that happen.”
The group have also warned of similar problems with the Morrison government’s controversial federal religious discrimination bill.
On May 26, federal Attorney-General Michaelia Cash told the Senate she was restarting meetings on the issue after taking over from former AG Christian Porter.
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